by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Nathan Chanthamontry is rated the third-best player on his team, which, in his case, is high praise. Elk River tennis is ranked No. 1 in the state, its lineup headed by twins in their fifth year with over 250 wins between them.
Chanthamontry, a fourth-year starter who helped the Elks win the 2012 state championship, has moved into the No. 3 singles slot behind Josh and Sam Gearou.
The 5-foot-6, 138-pound, one-sport athlete is keenly aware of having “big shoes to fill” because the last two 3S players, Ryan Ness on the 2012 state champion and Josh Chuba on the 2013 fourth-place team, both went unbeaten in dual meets.
“I want to keep that going. I’ve got to work hard so my teammates will feel safe that I can get that point,” said Chanthamontry. “That’s my goal this year, along with, of course, winning state as a team.”
Coach Randy Ronning is confident that Chanthamontry, currently 68-15 in his career, can uphold the Elks lock on 3-singles points.
“Nathan has a lot of skills. He is very smooth in executing his strokes, especially ground strokes and volleys,” said Ronning. “He’s not a big guy so he doesn’t have the big booming serve, but he puts just enough spin on the ball to get it in consistently. He hardly ever double faults.”
Chanthamontry’s solid forehand is complemented by an “awesome” backhand, said Ronning. “He has a textbook backhand. Three out of four players would rather use their forehand but he’s one who’s better on the backhand.”
The coach also appreciates the senior captain’s temperment.
“Nathan doesn’t get upset. At least, he doesn’t show it,” Ronning said. “He can get fired up as far as competing but he has a nice easy way of going about things.”
Chanthomontry posted a 24-5 record last year, mostly at No. 4 singles. He was 26-5 in the state championship season, mostly No. 3 doubles, and 15-7 as a freshman at No. 3 doubles. (The bulk of his doubles matches have been with fellow senior Logann Burns.) In three state tournaments, he has a 4-5 record; he was 0-3 as a freshman but 2-1 each of the last two years.
Chanthamontry, whose parents are from Laos, followed his dad into tennis. (In fact, Jimmy still plays tournaments.) Nathan started in fourth grade, and tennis is the only sport he’s ever played. “I also had older cousins who played for Edina and Burnsville and they encouraged me to play,” said Chanthamontry.
His other passion is “techie” activities such as fiddling with phones and computers. He’s leading toward computer science as a career.
The tennis zealot feels fortunate to have found this sport in this town.
“How many athletes can try for a second state championship? I am very blessed to be on this team,” said Chanthamontry. “It’s a matter of getting the right group of guys who are willing to work hard under a great coach.”
He knows much is demanded, and much is expected.
“Our coach puts a lot of pressure on us and works us hard, but it all pays off; you can really see that at state,” said Chanthamontry. “We are really buckling down. We are really serious about the season.”
THE CHANTHAMONTRY SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Jimmy and Tia; sister Christina, 20 … Sport: tennis … Academics: 3.69 GPA … Other activities: Mosaic Club, Multi-Cultural Club, formerly Chinese Club … College plans: UM-Duluth, then U of M main campus; probably computer science
Favorite stuff —Class: maths and sciences, especially Physics … TV show: “How I Met Your Mother” and “Breaking Bad” … Movie: “The Wolf of Wall Street” and anything with Leonardo DiCaprio … Food: any seafood … Drink: Arizona tea’s … Reading: news, technology and pop culture web sites … Athlete: Rafael Nadal … Music: Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams … Hobby: techie stuff, playing around with phones, computers … Wants to visit: Australia